3 Steps to Passing Along the Faith: Repeat (Part 3)
The Shema, recorded in Deuteronomy, was originally spoken to the Israelites on their way into the Promised Land. This section of Scripture was so important that the first part of it became a daily prayer for Israelites. Moreover, it was from the Shema that Jesus quoted when asked what the greatest commandment was (Mark 12:29–30).
The Shema is also where we find a threefold pattern of passing along the faith to the next generation. The pattern we see in the Shema starts with hearing, moves into doing, and then into repeating. Notice the pattern:
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.” (Deut. 6:4-8)
After hearing and doing, the Israelites were to repeat it by teaching it to their children. They were meant to model the relationship and pass it down to the next generation. The intention was that the next generation would remember their unique God and His loving and faithful works.
The NIV uses the word “impress” which means to “repeat” or “recount.”
As you read through the verses describing this passing on of the faith, ask yourself: is there any time when the parents were not to be impressing the faith on their children? Moses knew that the constant repetition was for the benefit of the children.
The sad tragedy of ancient Israel’s story is that, though they entered the Promised Land with the intention of loving God, they eventually forgot Him completely. They found the surrounding pagan culture more attractive. This did not mean that God did not do His job well; rather, what it meant was that eventually Israel stopped faithfully passing down the reality of God to the next generation.
Today, our next generation of Christians consistently finds secular parties, music, and people more attractive than it finds the church. That is often not their fault; it is how we train them. We often fail to show them the compelling path of Jesus; we often don’t demonstrate the true culture of God so that there ends up being no meaningful difference that they see between the church and the secular world.
Our next generation is watching us constantly, quietly.
They notice what we love most and how deeply or shallowly we love God. Whether you are married or unmarried, parents or future parents, youth ministers, worship leaders, or camp volunteers, we all need this wakeup call: You have been entrusted with God’s Word. You have been given the responsibility to repeat God’s Word to our next generation boldly and eagerly. Do not be ashamed, but take every opportunity to share God’s Word and His heart with our children. It is together our responsibility as churches and Christian homes to expose our children to God’s truth lived out in its fullness.
This is an especially important call to people in the church who work with youth: kids follow you. You are their role model. They seriously find you very cool. Parents send their kids to you in high hopes that you will inspire them and teach them what they cannot. If you will pray to God in reverence and seriousness, read Scripture with them, talk about Jesus, and show them God’s love and forgiveness, they will learn faithfulness from you. As Deuteronomy says, tell them more and more about God and His works. Trust me: kids get fascinated when they hear about God’s power and might.
To parents who are reading this: My encouragement to you is to ask yourself, How well am I raising my children under God’s Word? And then ask what you can change in order to impress God’s love and power in your children’s lives.
In my upbringing, my parents consistently talked to me about God.
They taught me about His works in past, present, and in coming times. They repeated it so much that God’s reverence, existence, and the infallibility of His Word never faded from my mind. When I went to Boise Bible College, my professors continued the pattern of remembrance of and reverence to God. And my heart loves and respects them for that. Throughout my life, my parents and teachers have shamelessly and fearlessly taught me God’s Word; this is what we all must do for the next generation.
Moses wanted the remembrance of the Shema to be so deep that it would be visible in people’s lives (“Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads”). If our takeaway from this point is limited to wearing Christian clothing, tattoos, rosaries, etc., then we are missing the point. This would not make us look any different from those Israelites who would literally inscribe the Shema on small scrolls and attach them to their foreheads and left arms when the Shema was recited. The purpose of God’s law was for God’s people to be visible as those who stood out among the pagan world for loving and following God.
Do you think that the love of God is spiritually visible in our lives?
Do we stand out as his people in public? Do we display faithfulness to God when we are alone? Does our disciplined life, our self-control, our intentionality, our encouraging words, and our service to the community make us stand out as God’s covenant people? Or will the next generation see no meaningful difference between us and the secular world, seeing superficiality where there should be faithful love?
Brothers and sisters, our visibility needs to be in our willingness to follow the path of Jesus. Jesus not only heard or preached the Shema, but He lived it out. Jesus expressed his love for God by His prayer routine, by boldly preaching God’s Word, by helping the poor, the outcasts, the sinners, by mourning with people who were hurt. He fed, healed, and forgave people. He loved God in such a way that He even devoted His last breath to Him.
I encourage you to question yourself: Have I limited myself only to hearing God’s Word or am I putting it into action too? What can I change in order to impress the love of God on my heart? What can I prioritize in order to intentionally pass along the faith to the next generation?
Maybe this means more time spent in prayer than on the worries of my looks, money, success, failures, and relationships.
Maybe this means more time spent in God’s Word than on online shopping, Netflix, video games, Tik-Tok, etc. Maybe this means more time focusing on the works of Jesus than on the lives of celebrities. Because none of these worldly pleasures will matter at the end of our days.
How we loved and honored God by hearing, doing, and repeating the Shema in every possibility and opportunity will be what mattered. That will be our victory.
How we loved and honored God by hearing, doing, and repeating the Shema in every possibility and opportunity will be what mattered.